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Armed citizen who shot Oklahoma gunman told worried crowd, 'I'm here to help'

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 5/25/2018 Christal Hayes

Before bullets started flying at an Oklahoma City bar and grill, Bryan Whittle and Juan Carlos Nazario didn't know each other. But they knew what to do: Stop the gunman before someone dies.

The two, police say, prevented what could have been a deadly attack Thursday night after they armed themselves and took down the shooter, Alexander Tilghman. Both say they don't feel like heroes. 

Nazario, a security guard and former small-town cop, stopped by the pier at Louie's Grill & Bar Thursday after work when he heard five or six gunshots. 

"I looked over and everyone was running from the back restaurant," he told USA TODAY. That's when he grabbed his gun and holster from his vehicle and ran toward the sounds.

Inside the busy lakeside restaurant, tables were knocked over, a glass door was shot out and people were hiding in fear. Nazario, a 35-year-old father of two, scanned for the gunman. 

"I saw people who were wounded and could just see the worry in their eyes," he said. "I told them I was looking for the gunman and I'm here to help." 

After shooting three people inside the restaurant, an attack that police so-far believe was random, Tilghman walked into the parking lot. That's where Nazario found him. 

"Drop the gun!" he yelled repeatedly. Tilghman didn't respond. He raised the gun again and fired a round in the parking lot. 

Nazario fired two shots. "He just fell to the ground." 

Despite a restaurant full of innocent lives potentially saved, Nazario said he doesn't feel like a hero. 

"I just can't understand being called a hero when someone's life was taken," he said. "I just did what I had to do. I'm very glad no innocent lives were taken but ultimately, there was a life taken." 

"I'm just glad I was there," Nazario continued. "I don't know what could have happened if I hadn't been there." 

He exchanged phone numbers with Whittle, the other man who police say pulled a handgun from his vehicle during the incident. 

Whittle and Nazario didn't cross paths during the chaos, something Nazario said could have added a layer of confusion to the incident. 

Whittle, 39, said he also felt his bravery wasn't anything "special." 

"I just did what needed to be done to stop the threat. Nothing special," he told USA TODAY. "A lot of people would have done the same given the situation."

Follow Christal Hayes on Twitter: Journo_Christal



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